Family Old World Buntings (Emberizidae)

Least Concern

Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)


French: Bruant proyer German: Grauammer Spanish: Escribano triguero

Emberiza Calandra


, 1758,



Often separated in monotypic genus Miliaria on account of lack of sexual dimorphism, moult strategy (the only bunting to have complete post-juvenile moult), and differences in bill structure and tertial pattern; molecular studies, however, suggest that genetic differences so small that placement in separate genus not warranted. See also E. fucata (below). Geographical variation complicated by local conditions that affect plumage colour tones and intensity of streaking; clanceyi tentatively recognized, as its plumage features seem surprisingly constant. Other named races include thanneri (described from Tenerife, in Canary Is), kleinschmidti (from Málaga, in S Spain), algeriensis (from Bône, in Algeria), graeca (from Calamata, in Greece), volhynica (from Volodymyr-Volynskyi, in NW Ukraine), sarmatia (from Askania-Nova, in Kherson Oblast, in S Ukraine) and ignobilis (from near Tbilisi, in Georgia), all synonymized with nominate. Species may be better treated as monotypic. Three subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. c. clanceyi R. Meinertzhagen, 1947 – W Scotland (Hebrides); extinct in W Ireland.
  • E. c. calandra Linnaeus, 1758 – Britain (NE Scotland and parts of England), Denmark, extreme S Sweden and S Latvia S, somewhat patchily, to Iberia and Mediterranean (including most islands), and E to Belarus, Ukraine and S Russia (S to Caucasus region), NW Caspian Sea, Turkey (except SE) and coastal Lebanon and Israel; also N Africa (Morocco E to Libya) and Canary Is.
  • E. c. buturlini H. E. Johansen, 1907 – SE Turkey S to N Israel, E across Syria, Iraq and W & N Iran to Turkmenistan and N Afghanistan, also N through Tajikistan, SE Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to S Kazakhstan and extreme NW China (extreme W Xinjiang).
  • Breeds also in Arabian Peninsula, where expanding (subspecies unknown)#R. Non-breeding visitor also to Egypt and E Arabia (subspecies unknown).

    Descriptive notes

    17–19 cm; c. 32–67 g. A heavily built, streaky, dull brownish bunting, distinctive in lacking conspicuous white in outer tail and in having bold dark streaking on... read more


    Song a bouncing jumbled outburst, sometimes likened to sound made by jangling of a bunch of keys, 2... read more


    Open rolling grasslands, both in natural steppe and in agricultural land; tolerates scattered... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous, but chiefly plant seeds. In breeding season especially, diet includes high percentage of invertebrates, primarily small insects... read more


    Season often protracted, laying starting relatively late, from late May or early Jun, in NW of range, earlier in S; lowland populations in... read more


    N & W populations mainly sedentary, as are those of Mediterranean Basin and Canary Is.... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and abundant in much of range. No longer breeds regularly in Norway, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania; race clanceyi... read more

    Recommended citation

    Madge, S. & de Juana, E. (2020). Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 February 2020).